Brain serotonin synthesis capacity in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Effects of cognitive behavioral therapy and sertraline

Jennifer I. Lissemore, Debbie Sookman, Paul Gravel, Alexandre Berney, Amir Barsoum, Mirko Diksic, Thomas E Nordahl, Gilbert Pinard, Igor Sibon, Jean Cottraux, Marco Leyton, Chawki Benkelfat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are both effective treatments for some patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), yet little is known about the neurochemical changes related to these treatment modalities. Here, we used positron emission tomography and the α-[11C]methyl-l-tryptophan tracer to examine the changes in brain regional serotonin synthesis capacity in OCD patients following treatment with CBT or SSRI treatment. Sixteen medication-free OCD patients were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of either CBT or sertraline treatment. Pre-to-post treatment changes in the α-[11C]methyl-l-tryptophan brain trapping constant, K∗(ml/g/min), were assessed as a function of symptom response, and correlations with symptom improvement were examined. Responders/partial responders to treatment did not show significant changes in relative regional tracer uptake; rather, in responders/partial responders, 12 weeks of treatment led to serotonin synthesis capacity increases that were brain-wide. Irrespective of treatment modality, baseline serotonin synthesis capacity in the raphe nuclei correlated positively with clinical improvement. These observations suggest that, for some patients, successful remediation of OCD symptoms might be associated with greater serotonergic tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number82
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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    Lissemore, J. I., Sookman, D., Gravel, P., Berney, A., Barsoum, A., Diksic, M., Nordahl, T. E., Pinard, G., Sibon, I., Cottraux, J., Leyton, M., & Benkelfat, C. (2018). Brain serotonin synthesis capacity in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Effects of cognitive behavioral therapy and sertraline. Translational Psychiatry, 8(1), [82]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-018-0128-4